Top 5 Interview Questions for Fashion Buyers

Whether you like high-end designers or pride yourself on being able to spot a great bargain when you see one, if you’re interested in the fashion industry then becoming a buyer might just be for you. We recently sat down with Chrissy Allen, a buyer at MILLY,  to get the inside scoop on the industry and find out her top tips for nailing the interview.

According to Chrissy, here are some of the questions you’re likely to encounter in your interview and what you need to know to answer them effectively.

Why do you love fashion?

This is one of the first questions you’ll come across in your interview and one that you should definitely be prepared to answer. Why do hiring managers ask this? We want to make sure that you don’t just love shopping. We want to hear your passion,” Chrissy explains. In order to impress the interviewer, talk about what draws you to fashion and what you’d like to accomplish while working in the field.

Pro Tip: Get creative! Instead of saying something like, “Because I like to experiment and try new things,” focus on some of the other key attributes of fashion such as the fact that working in fashion requires you to be analytical and understand market trends.

Who are our main competitors?

When interviewers ask this question it’s because they “want to know that you’ve done your research,” Chrissy says. In fact, being able to talk about a brand’s competitors is a great way to show that you know both the industry and the brand.

Pro Tip: When answering this question, be sure to pick competitors that are in the same space as the brand you’re interviewing with. For example, if you were interviewing at MILLY — a brand known for being contemporary, young and feminine — you should name competitors that share those characteristics and are targeting the same customer base. Since department stores tend to group similar brands together, a great way of researching competitors is to visit a department store and see what other clothing brands are grouped together with MILLY.

What three adjectives would you use to describe our company?

This is a fun question and one that gives you a chance to show that you understand the brand and can represent it well to others. “Whether you say something like fun or girly or super modern, we want to know that you know our brand,” Chrissy explains. In order to ensure that you come up with a great answer, spend some time on the company’s website and social channels and take notes on the key phrases the brand uses to describe itself. Then make a list of 3-5 relevant adjectives so that you have a selection of descriptors to choose from during the interview.

How was your experience in our store?

One of the key parts of being a fashion buyer is understanding the customer experience and being able to suggest changes that will help the brand improve. The main things interviewers like Chrissy want to know when they ask this question is, “Do you know who our customer is and have you been to our stores?”

To nail this answer, we recommend visiting at least one (but preferably two) of the company’s stores and taking note of things like layout, customer service and window displays. In your interview, you can talk about how these factors shaped your experience, making sure to end on a positive note.

Pro Tip: To really get a sense of the customer experience, be sure to talk to the sales representatives so that you can highlight things you liked (or didn’t like) about the interaction.

Tell me about a time that you negotiated.

“There’s a lot of negotiation in the fashion world and we want to know that you’re comfortable with that” Chrissy says. This includes negotiating payment terms and rates with distributors and designers and being able to make deals that are beneficial to the company. To answer this question effectively, focus on a previous experience where you negotiated a deal or a contract and be sure to explain both your thought process and the outcome.

Being a fashion buyer is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the retail industry while building your skill set. The key to landing a job as a buyer, especially at a great company like MILLY, is to do your research and show that you know the brand and its customers. This will help you stand out to employers and be at the top of their minds when they’re ready to make an offer.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 7 Phone Interview Tips That Will Land You a Second Interview and find answers to common interview questions such as Are You Willing to Relocate?